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QIMR helping tackle melanoma deaths

As part of National Skin Cancer Action Week (15 – 21 November), the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) in partnership with Melanoma Patients Australia, is hosting a free information night to share the latest research findings.

Melanoma is the second leading form of cancer diagnosed in men and women in Australia, affecting 1 in 17 Australians every year.

Queensland has the highest rates of melanoma worldwide. In 2004, 2,010 Queenslanders were diagnosed with melanoma, of which, almost 300 died from the disease.

Dr David Whiteman from the QIMR says this is a frightening statistic.

“These figures are saddening, simply because melanoma is a potentially preventable disease,” said Dr Whiteman. “Queenslanders have to be aware of skin cancer and be especially vigilant of sun exposure. There are genes that cause melanoma, but for all people, the best way to reduce the risk of melanoma is to minimise unnecessary or high-levels of sun exposure.”

The people at highest risk have a higher genetic probability of the disease: red hair, pale skin, freckles, and moles.

“Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for people under the age of 40, with more cases per year than leukaemias and lymphomas in children and young adults.”

To address aspects of awareness and understanding, QIMR is holding a free Melanoma Information Night, 6:00 pm Wednesday 18 November at its Bancroft Centre at 300 Herston Rd, Herston, Brisbane.

The night will include informative presentations from researchers and dermatologists followed by an open discussion and light refreshments.

Presentations will include: Dr Whiteman on the causes and prevention of melanoma; Professor Nick Hayward, the Head of the Oncogenomics Laboratory at QIMR, about the genetics of melanoma; Professor Peter Soyer the Chair of the Dermatology Research Centre at The University of Queensland, discussing techniques of melanoma detection, while Dr Margaret Oziemski, a private Brisbane dermatologist will enlighten the audience about the role of vitamin D.

Mr Herman Herlaar, a representative from Melanoma Patients Australia (mpa), will give a patient’s perspective on living with melanoma.

This event is held with the support of Melanoma Patients Australia, Suncorp, and Turner Freeman Lawyers.